TD Jakes - Broadening Your Circle
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell amongst thieves. And the thieves in turn stripped him, and wounded him, and left him half dead. At this point, Jesus has a man laying on the side of the road, his face down into the sandy dirt of the Palestinian heat, in a tumultuous situation. And it is about to get dark, and thereby cold and freezing, and there he is in the darkness of the night, alienated, in pain, bleeding, left alone, perhaps delusionary, out of his head, wondering if he's going to die, half dead, pulse getting weak, heart slowing down, temperature's falling. He thinks he is about to die.
In this peril, in this turmoil, in this crisis, there is a certain feeling that comes when you hear footsteps coming. Maybe I might get to live, maybe I might survive this, maybe somebody will pass by and have compassion on me. I want you to understand how important the footsteps are. Because when you're dying, and you're gonna die alone, and you don't hear any footsteps, you lose something more important than blood, you lose hope. And when you lose hope, you have lost everything. Hope deferred, the Bible said, makes the heart sick.
So, when you lose hope, you have lost just about everything. This man was dying physically, dying emotionally, losing hope, and then he heard footsteps. Oh, bless God. It's a man of God coming. It's somebody from my circle. It's somebody I believe in. It's somebody I respect. It's a priest coming. The priest came by and looked over at him, and turned and walked away. And I'm not judging the priest. Maybe he was afraid the thieves were still close by. Maybe he didn't feel that he was confident or strong enough to lift the man. But for whatever reason, the priest passed by.
Shortly thereafter, a Levite comes along, and surely this is a Levite, surely he's going to come, and he's going to do something. He is instructed in the way of the Lord. He's part of the Aaronic priesthood. He's raised up in an environment that is conducive and supporters of the ordinances and the oracles of God. I know he's gonna do the God thing, you know, what would Jesus do? He's gonna come over there and he's gonna rescue. He did not do that. He looked at him, said, "Hmm, sure looks bad," turned around, and walked away. Left the man worse off than he was before. He's still losing blood, still losing hope, still losing strength, and finally a Samaritan passes by.
Why does Jesus tell us that the third guy was a Samaritan? That's what I want to talk about today. Jesus goes out of his way. He could've said another stranger passed by. He could've said a Jewish peasant passed by. He could've said a tax collector passed by. But when he said a Samaritan passed by, he is now challenging this man's sociological construct. Because if there were anything that the Jews of Jesus's time did not like, it was a Samaritan. When Jesus commissioned the 70 to go out and to start ministering the gospel, he told them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He said, "But do not go to the Samaritans, and do not go to the Gentiles".
Even Jesus told 'em not to go, because salvation had to first be offered to his own brethren, his covenant, his circle. Later, that will be broken. Later, that will be enlarged. Later, that will grow. You remember when the Bible said in the Gospel of St. John that Jesus told his disciples, I think it's chapter 4, that he must need go through Samaria? Jesus decided to go through Samaria? God had a plan for Samaria. The Jews hated the Samaritans. How do you know that? A lot of ways I know that, but let's start with one. When the woman at the well came down to the well, she said, "What are you doing down here at the well, you being a Jew? You know that our people have no dealings with each other, seeing that I am a Samaritan and you're a Jew. We don't even deal with each other. We don't communicate with each other. We don't talk with each other. What are you doing hangin' out in my neighborhood"?
Jesus went into other ZIP codes. We tend to stay in the ZIP codes of our comfort, and whenever you stay in the ZIP code of your comfort, you're staying in the sociological construct that makes you comfortable. And a lotta times, that has a lot to do with affecting your life, your blessings, your prosperity, your healing, your restoration. Because God did not promise to send the blessing through people you like. God did not promise to send the blessing through people you're used to. God did not promise to send the blessing through people you approve of. In fact, many times God will send your blessing into the hands of somebody that you would prefer not to interact with.
You remember when Hagar was out in the wilderness and about to die, and the Lord sent her back to Sarai to go back home, because I have chosen Sarai to bless you. She and Sarai didn't get along, but God chose somebody that she did not even like to bless her, and then humbled her, and made her go back and submit herself in a place where Hagar did not want to be. But God controls who he decides to use to bless you. Let me show you again in Scripture. The Bible said, "I will make your enemies your footstool". That means the very people that you don't like, I'll make them the footstool that carries you to the next letter.
That sounds good when you're preaching a sermon, but when you work that thing out in real life, do you have the courage to step on the step, if the step is somebody you don't like, or would you choose to stay in your circle, and wither, and die rather than to receive the help from somebody that challenges your construct, what you have built in your mind? There is not a person listening at me right now who doesn't have some kind of construct that you've built in your mind, and preconceived ideologies about certain types of people, or certain types of clothing, or certain types of income, or certain kinds of the politics, or certain kinds of theology, or certain kinds of gender.
Everybody that I am talking to right now has some sort of circle that you feel safe in, and God is about to broaden your circle. He's about to shatter it. He's about to break it into pieces. Because God is going to use some orthodox ways to bless you, some unorthodox ways to get you out of the situation that you're in, and it's going to challenge the way you think. I feel the presence of the Lord talkin' to you right now. It's gonna challenge the way you think. It's gonna challenge the truth as you know it. It's going to challenge your construct. It's going to challenge your philosophies. It's going to challenge your ideas. It's gonna challenge how you proceed in the future.
Now, let's go deeper. Can we go deeper into this? People who normally would be together, you're finding it difficult to come together. Some of you dread Thanksgiving dinner. You dread the holiday, because your mother-in-law's coming over, and that other tribe is coming over, and your son and his girlfriend are coming over, and she doesn't like you and all. You got tribes to contend with. All these tribes goin' on in your life. So many tribes. Democrats and Republicans used to be able to disagree and still have lunch together.
Now if you disagree with me, you're not in American, you're an animal, you're a dog, you're terrible, you're awful. Those days are gone of being able to step, being mature enough to step over your differences, and understanding that there's more to unite us than there is to divide us. That doesn't mean that we can't speak truth to power. That doesn't mean that we can't have honest conversation. That doesn't mean that we can't describe our perspective. But you can't change people you won't talk to. You can't help people that you won't talk to. And more importantly, they can't help you. God will use somebody that you don't like to bless you.
And the power of this text that we're studying in Luke 10, it says Jesus is trying to shatter the construct that exists around the minds of these people to think that the only people that can bless you are the people who are like you. The truth of the matter is, the people who were most like the man who went down from Jerusalem, Jerusalem now, Jerusalem, which incidentally is a place that the southern tribes inherited. They inherited Jerusalem. They inherited Solomon's Temple. This man went down from Jerusalem and fell amongst thieves, stripped him, wounded him, left him half dead. Everybody that he thought would help him did not.
I want to talk to some people out there who are living with the disappointment that the people you thought were gonna be by your side were not. The people you thought would come to rescue you did not. The people you thought would call you on the phone and ask you are you all right did not. You're sittin' up right now in an isolated situation, in a quarantine situation, and some of the very people you thought would call you and check on you didn't call. And some of the most unlikely people came to your rescue, and came to your aid, because God is trying to shatter how you see the world, and tear down your construct, and open your understanding to the fact that the Samaritan might be the one that brings you the oil and the wine.
That pours in the healing balm in your womb. That wraps up the bleeding and stops the hemorrhaging in your life. That gives you a word of wisdom, or a word of knowledge, or introduces you to your next job or your next opportunity. You have to understand that, or they may even be so compassionate that they get down off their beast walk, so that you could ride on their beast all the way to the end, that's love. And you don't get to pick who God chooses to love you through.
I'm gonna say that again. You don't get to pick who God chooses to love you through. The reality is, God is loving the man who's bleeding and half dead. God is healing the man who's bleeding and half dead. God has made provisions for the man who's bleeding and half dead. And God has made provisions for you I want to talk to somebody who's losing money, losing strength, losing love, losing relationships, and you're sittin' up there wondering what in the world is going to happen. God is gonna do it. God is gonna heal you. God is going to bless you. God is gonna raise your finances. God is gonna pull you through. God is going to open up your eyes. God is going to create an opportunity. God is gonna give you a position. God's gonna give you a promotion. God's gonna give you a place to stay. But you may not recognize him, because he made come dressed as your Samaritan.
Who are the Samaritans in your life? Who are the people in your life that you won't ask a question when you're in the mall and you need directions, because they're not kin enough to you? Who are the people in your life that you drive past to find somebody else to talk to? I'm not talkin' about open bigotry, where you're running around in sheets and stuff like that. I'm not talkin' about open bigotry, where you're hating white people, or rich people, or poor people. But we have biases in and out of every race and culture, and even within the race and culture.
Poor people don't like rich people. Some rich people don't like poor people. And we pick who we're gonna come up to, 'cause if they're wearing sagging pants, I'm not goin' up to them. Or if they just got out of a Rolls-Royce, I feel uncomfortable talking to 'em. I want to take you outside of your comfort zone, because God is getting ready to bless you, and it's not gonna come through anybody that you have in your cell phone. The promises of God that are in your Bible did not promise to line up with the folks in your Rolodex, that are in your phone. It may not be anybody that you talk to frequently, but I swear God is gonna bless you.
The power of this conversation, the importance of this story, centers around the question that the lawyer asks the law-giver. Who is my neighbor? Did you hear that? The lawyer asked the law giver, "Who is my neighbor"? And Jesus shatters his understanding. See, the problem with words, we can say the same words, but they don't mean the same thing. We all have our interpretation of a word. When one person says I love you and another person says I love you, too, they use the same word, but it doesn't always mean the same thing. Some people throw the word "love" around like they're French fries at McDonald's. Other people are very careful with how they use the word "love".
Some people throw the word "friend" around. I'm kind of funny about that word, "friend," I don't like to use that too quick, because to me, friend means something that I have come to learn that a lot of other people do not define friendship the way that I do. And all of a sudden, what they're fighting over in the whole story is what does it mean to be my neighbor? And Jesus utterly blows the mind not just of the lawyer, but he shatters through generations of constructs and preconceived ideologies that have brought this lawyer to the point that in his mind, he's tryin' to make sure that he doesn't have to love who he doesn't like. Whoa, that's good right there.
How do I get to unlove who I don't like? And Jesus sits down and tells him a story. And that's what I want to do is sit down and tell you a story. That if you're on the side of the road, and maybe COVID-19 has stripped you, and wounded you, and left you half dead. And you're hemorrhaging in your emotions, or your finances, or your time, or your job, or your mortgage. And you're wondering am I gonna make it or not? Or maybe you've gone through some other kind of crisis that has left you less than you were before you started your journey. Because anytime you start a journey, you're not promised to arrive the way you left.
And if you're stuck someplace, and you've seen a deduction, even in your ability to love, or your ability to live, or your ability to give, or your ability to think, and you're laying there bleeding, and you can be goin' to work and still be bleeding. You can be driving the car and still be bleeding. You can be goin' on a date and still be bleeding. Because a lot of people don't see the hemorrhaging, but you yourself know that you're bleeding up under that dress, bleeding up under that coat, bleeding up under that suit, and you've gone through some things from which you have not recovered that stripped, you that wounded you, that left you half dead.
And you've been praying in your secret life, "God, send me some help". But if the help rang the doorbell, and it didn't look like what you expected it to look like, would you open the door? If the help called you on the phone, and it didn't sound like somebody that was familiar, would you open the door? That's what this text is all about. This text really centers around the great challenge to broaden your circle. If you went through Mother's Day, and your own kids didn't call you, and somebody else did, can you open up your circle?
Quit crying about who didn't call you, and thank God for who God sent. Because sometimes it is not promised to come from your daughter, it is not promised to come from your son. It is not promised to always come from your mother. Everybody who got mothered didn't get mothered by their mother. Everybody who got fathered didn't get fathered by their father. God will use somebody that has no DNA like yours, and yet they have fathered you. And you're so busy crying over who turned and walked away, that you don't praise God for who came over and poured in the oil and wine. I want to shatter the way you think about your life right now.
What does it matter if it didn't come from the Levite and the priest, as long as it came? What does it matter if it didn't come from your child, as long as it came? What does it matter if it didn't come from your father, as long as it came? God wants to restore to you the years that the cankerworms, and the palmerworm, and the locusts ate up, but some people refuse to be restored, because they're so wounded by who left that they can't rejoice about who came.
I wanna talk to you today. Are you listening at me? This Bible class is not just designed to teach you the historicity of the Samaritans. It is not just designed to lay a foundation up under a very familiar text. It is not just designed to titillate your intellectualism with years, and concepts, and ideas about cultures, and the procession of the ups and downs of the people of Israel. No, what good is it to understand the historicity if you can't contemporize the text and make it applicable to who I am right now?
Wherever you are in the world listening at me right now, there's not a person in this world that hasn't been stripped, wounded, and left half dead by something. A lover who left. A marriage that failed. A child that doesn't like you. A parent that doesn't regard you. We all live with our wounds. We don't get to pick who wounds us, and we don't get to pick who heals us. Because sometimes God will send the greatest healing through the person you would least except it from.
That's what this text is all about. This text is a challenge to love your neighbor as you love yourself, only when you allow your neighbor to be bigger than the people that you have in your phone. This text is about living with expectation, even when you've had disappointments. This text is about surviving who walked away, so that you will be alive for who is about to come. Because if you are not careful, you will be so grief stricken over the turn of events.
Look at the turn of events. I was just walkin.' I wasn't bothering anybody. I was tryin' to get from point A to point B. I ran into thieves. I did ask for these thieves. I don't want these thieves. They stripped me, now I'm naked. I'm naked, outside, alone. I've been on the Jericho Road. It is a winding road with sand blowing all in your nose and in your mouth and everywhere. It's the worst place in the world to be naked. It is cold at night. It is hot during the day. This man, they stripped him and they wounded him. I could have walked on naked. I'd have been a bit embarrassed, but I could have walked on naked, but they wounded him and they left him.
I want to talk to everybody who's been abandoned by anybody. I want you to see this text in a brand new light. They left him. They stripped him, they wounded him, they left him. You dated somebody, they abused you sexually, they wounded you financially, and they left you half dead. And you've never been the same again. And you're stuck on the Jericho Road right now. For you, this is bigger than just understanding the historicity of the Samaritans. It is a challenge for you to look at your pain in a different perspective.
And God is saying I want to send some help, but because of your sociological construct, if I would send help, you would turn it away, 'cause the help didn't look like what you had in mind. The reason I'm teaching this is that I felt impressed of the Holy Spirit to tell you in the turbulence of this time that we're in right now, you gotta broaden your circle. I can't tell you how many people I watched get in trouble, African-American people in particular, who go down to the barber shop and get some lawyer at the barber shop to litigate a case, never knowing that the lawyer is a real estate lawyer, and there you are wondering why you lost the case.
It's because you stick with the familiar. We get who everybody else got. We do whatever they did. We get somebody, we don't even check 'em out, but because they're familiar, we take familiarity over competence. Maybe other people do that, too, but I know we do that. And I said, I'm thinking, "My God, you got a corporate lawyer litigating a criminal case? That guy's not qualified". "Yeah, but he was a lawyer, and I knew him, and we get our hair cut at the same place. We work out at the same gym. I want him". Those are all dumb reasons to make decisions.
The lawyer asked Jesus a question. "Who is my neighbor"? Because he is only comfortable with who he's comfortable with. And I'm telling you, it is not that God's not going to bless you, and it's not that help is not on the way, but it may not look like what you had in mind. If you can broaden your circle, at least broaden it, maybe you ought to shatter it altogether, almost every blessing that ever came in my life came through somebody I didn't even know.
And some of them came through people I didn't even like. And some of them came through people with which I deeply disagreed with their theology. But God used them to bless me. In this season where we need God's blessing more than we've ever needed it before, we cannot be picky who the mailman is when you desperately need the mail. I want to talk to people who are standing at the mailbox waiting on God to answer, and yet running away from the box because you don't like the mailman.
God sends this as a 9-1-1 message to you right now. Stop, your Levites will pass by, and your priests will look the other way, but I am sending you a Samaritan. And before the experience is over, it will challenge everything your mama and your grandmama ever told you about who to look to for help. Because it is not so much about the Samaritan, it's about the God who sent them. And God will use anybody to bless you.